Relations with New Zealand

  • Last updated: 07 Apr. 2016 15:13

Over recent years, NATO has developed relations with a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. New Zealand is counted among these countries, which are referred to as “partners across the globe”. Building on dialogue and cooperation that has been developed since 2001, NATO and New Zealand signalled their commitment to strengthen cooperation with the joint signature of an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme in June 2012. New Zealand has made valuable contributions to NATO-led efforts in Afghanistan, first as part of the International Security Assistance Force and now under the new mission (known as “Resolute Support”) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions.

The Strategic Concept adopted at the 2010 Lisbon Summit paved the way for a more flexible partnership policy offering all partners the same basis of cooperation and dialogue. The establishment of a single Partnership Cooperation Menu open to all NATO partners enabled New Zealand to access a wide range of cooperation activities with the Alliance and to formalise its relations with NATO through the development of an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme tailored to the country’s interests.

New Zealand’s partnership programme focuses on improving future cooperation in areas such as cyber defence, disaster relief, crisis management and joint education and training.

Practical cooperation

New Zealand made a significant contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, which completed its mission in December 2014. The country led a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamyan Province, which became the first of seven areas to transition to Afghan leadership in July 2011. Following this, New Zealand continued to contribute to ISAF including with the New Zealand National Support Element (NSE) based at Bagram Air Force Base (BAF). It currently contributes to the Resolute Support Mission with eight personnel in training roles with the Afghan National Army.

This was not the country’s first troop contribution, as several New Zealand officers served in the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. New Zealand has also contributed twice to NATO’s maritime counter-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa, the second partner country to contribute to Operation Ocean Shield.

Dialogue and consultation

Cooperation is also underpinned by regular high-level political dialogue. NATO and New Zealand have had regular contact since 2001.

As an ISAF troop contributor, New Zealand was involved in meetings and discussions related to ISAF operations, at ministerial, heads of state and government and working level. On that basis, the then Prime Minister Helen Clark attended the meeting of ISAF troop-contributing nations that took place at the Bucharest Summit in April 2008. Foreign Minister Murray McCully participated in such discussions at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010.

In February 2011, NATO’s Deputy Secretary General travelled to New Zealand, where he held discussions with Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp, Chief of Defence Force R. R. Jones, and other officials.

Prime Minister John Key visited NATO Headquarters in June 2012, when he pledged closer security cooperation after signing a new partnership cooperation accord.